If you missed the NY Times article this month about how all but one contestant of “The Biggest Loser” reality show (season 8) regained the massive amounts of weight they dropped - and then some - you can read it here (1). If you’ve never heard about or watched the show, kudos to you for spending your valuable time more constructively! While I truly sympathise with each contestant and their struggle to get healthy, I am put off by the show’s quick-fix, mind-over-matter approach to weight loss.
As I read the article, I just couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about...why the stark surprise at the contestants’ failure, given the simplistic, calories-in-calories-out method utilized? Why the extreme leap to suggesting bariatric surgery and medication as better solutions? It took me a while to just digest the words on my screen.
Findings from this new study only add to what we already know about weight loss. Starving yourself by restricting calories and then spending hours at the gym exercising, to burn more calories than you consumed can be counterproductive and ineffective (2, 3).
Years ago, even I punished myself by eating less and exercising more than my body could physically handle. I was desperate to lose 10-15 lbs and rid myself of my annoying belly pooch. Determined to reach my goals, I started spinning, joined boot camp classes and ate a basic low fat, low carb, and high protein diet. There were moments of accomplishment and euphoria but mostly I felt spent and ravenous. My weight just kept yo-yoing back and forth.
Like the Biggest Loser contestants, I was also working against my own body, instead of enabling my body to work for me. It was only years later, after I learned to use nutrition and lifestyle techniques to help my body do what it actually already knew how to do, that the pounds melted off effortlessly and the pooch vanished - without a single sit-up! The best part - my body has maintained this natural weight easily, well into my late thirties and now early forties.
What’s my secret to permanent weight loss? Effective nutrition and lifestyle changes that nourish the entire body by healing poor digestion, addressing hormonal imbalances, decreasing inflammation and supporting immune function. This approach targets the root cause of excess weight - especially belly fat which is the hardest to get rid off. If this isn’t enough to get you motivated - there’s more...because of the gut-brain connection, fixing your digestion also helps with mental health, including depression, anxiety and brain-fog(4). Targeting digestion to fight obesity is supported by current research (5).
Bariatric surgery and medication should be the last resort, after using evidence based nutrition and lifestyle modifications. It’s time to stop looking for quick fixes. It’s time to stop punishing ourselves by restricting calories and over-exercising. Let’s focus on nourishing and renewing our bodies instead. Effective nutrition and lifestyle techniques can help us shed it all - pounds, kilos, and emotions that don’t serve us.